I Think, Therefore I Am (Biased)

During this election season, I’ve had several subscribers to my NextDraft newsletter accuse me of being biased in my coverage.

I am.

For my newsletter, I select the ten most fascinating news items of the day, write up my own summaries with my own takes, and then include links to the full stories. It is essentially a modern day column in which I present my take on the day’s news.

Every story I pick is bias. Every word I write is bias. In case that’s not clear enough for people, I went so far as to make my head my logo.

But this is about more than one egomaniac and his remarkably well-written, funny, entertaining and informative newsletter (also available as a 5-star iOS app). It’s about a general misunderstanding of what being unbiased is all about. So here are few thoughts on the topic.

  1. Opinion columns and personal newsletters are supposed to be biased. If you don’t want any bias, then open up seventy-five tabs yourself. You’ll get a good overview of the day’s stories and it will be pretty unbiased. Until you click on something. Then you biased it.

Could I have picked another example that wouldn’t have made only one of the candidates look bad? Probably. But I didn’t want to. See how simple that is?

Let me be clear. As a guy who writes a modern-day column, I hate election season. It sucks up all the journalistic oxygen. The coverage rarely includes hard or investigative news. And everyone who has the slightest interest in political news already consumes it in quantities that make Joey Chestnut look like he’s on a hunger strike. The market is saturated, so in general, I avoid injecting a ton of opinion or giving a blow by blow account of the daily campaign on campaign combat. It’s everywhere. And following it religiously is probably not good for my health or yours.

But this time around, I see the presidential race as a story that goes well beyond politcs. And so I cover it. And when something seems crazy or dangerous or ridiculous, I say so.

So call me biased. We should at least agree on something.

Dave Pell is the Managing Editor of the Internet.

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.

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